The 12,000 volunteers who donned superhero capes and morphed San Francisco into Gotham City can’t make sure a California boy will stay clear of leukemia for the rest of his life.

But, in handing the 5-year-old the key to the city on Friday, they sure gave him every boy’s dream-come-true for a few hours and a memory for a lifetime.

Miles, whose parents asked that his last name not be revealed, has been a bit shy about talking through all this – a dream-turned-reality thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the Bay Area. In some brief interviews before his big day – which had been a surprise – Miles simply said his wish was to be Batman, a character he regularly slips into during his rough-and-tumble escapades in his hometown of Tulelake, Siskyou County, near the Oregon border.

But his mom, Natalie, said this dream is emblematic of her son’s battle with leukemia.

“He likes to be a superhero,” she said. “He is one. He beat an awful disease.”

All this is happening because of what happened after Patricia Wilson of the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area Foundation sent an email in October asking for some volunteers to help give Miles his wish. She’s part of a national organization that grants children with life-threatening illnesses their wishes. Her chapter opened in 1984 and now grants about 300 wishes a year.

But this wish request was different. Wilson’s email request to turn San Francisco into Gotham City went viral. And between 11,000 and 12,000 volunteers came to contribute their efforts, whether it was acting, being stage crew or assisting in a myriad of other ways.

“Obviously, we’ll never replicate this,” Wilson said. “This is a moment in time when something goes viral and the city goes alive.”

Read more on the NBC Greater Bay news page 

You can also check out this amazing Buzz Feed that breaks down Batkid’s special day



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